Action on Postpartum Psychosis

Was it ppp??


I had ppp after the birth of my son in 2010. Before my son was born I had never had any mental health issues. At first the GP thought I had post natal depression and I was put on anti depressants I actually felt better for a few weeks but then things started to get strange. I had serve anxiety and constant panic attacks, I think I was put on beta blockers to try and control my anxiety. I can't remember when they increased my anti depressants it was either before I was admitted to a mother and baby unit or when I arrived there, I think it was before. I think my son was about 2 months old when I started to develop psychotic symptoms. I was convinced I was going to die, I thought the TV was giving me messages from God and the devil, I had religious delusions. By the time I reached the mother and baby unit I was convinced that I was dead and that I had been sent to hell.

I have been reading a lot lately about ppp and it often says that ppp starts a few days after the baby is born, it did say that it is rare that ppp starts several weeks after the baby is born. I was wondering if anyone else developed psychosis a few months after having their baby. Also did anyone develop psychosis after being put on anti depressants. I have also had 3 psychotic episodes since I was diagnosed with ppp. I have been given 4 different diagnoses since including bipolar, psychotic depression, schitzo affective disorder and borderline personality disorder. I don't think the doctors have any idea why I keep getting psychosis. Does anyone know how long ppp can go on for? Is it possible for it to last 5 years plus?

My other theory is that the anti depressants sent me into psychosis.

I also had a traumatic birth as I needed an emergency c section. I was totally freaked out after it.

Hope to hear your replies


9 Replies

I can't quote sources, but when researching PP in more detail when we were making our decision whether or not to have another child (I had PP after the birth of our first baby in 2012) I did ALOT of research and, from what I recall, 95% of women will get ill within the first 2 weeks, but that still leaves 5%...I also read that the hormones of pregnancy permanently effect the chemicals in your brain, regardless of whether or not you suffer PP.

I never suffered any mental health issues before suffering PP, and after I suffered it there was debate as to whether or not I had bipolar; I remember it being thrown out there when they gave me my confirmed diagnosis of PP, but my perinatal psychiatrist then telling me when I queried this further, that, having discussed my case with his colleagues, that I didnt (who knows? I believe the official diagnosis would come into to play if I had suffered two or more cases of psychosis - we did go onto have a second baby and I did not suffer PP, however, I took precautionary measures and medication straight after birth....)

My brother has since had a confirmed diagnosis of bipolar and what I do know with that is that sometimes certain antidepressants hinder, rather then aid the person and their condition (gosh, that all sounds rather clinical but you know what I mean!) I know from research that there is a strong correlation between bipolar and puerperal psychosis, whether it is you, or a close relative who has it.

I am also aware that if you suffer PP, you may 'relapse' again and although your psychosis may have first presented itself after having given birth, or in the days, weeks, or months after, it could happen again, without and not within any given timescale.

Judging by this forum, a lot of women share in having experienced, both, PP and a traumatic birth experience.

The lines seem so blurred don't they?!

I felt like I was under the microscope after I suffered PP and then I became uber self aware of my behaviour and myself and put the magnifying glass on everything for a long time and it is only very recently that I personally have come to a point where I accept that I have had PP; who knows if I have bipolar...

As human beings, we always have questions and, rightly so, we like to be able to have the answers to them, especially when it comes to something so fundamental as our mental health.

I found a lot of my answers through research and via this forum and APP (combined with the odd bit of soul searching!)

Reading your post, you've done all this too but still have questions that remain unanswered - have you contacted APP directly? Perhaps they may be able to assist you in reaching a point where you feel more reassured and are nearer to reaching a more definitive, confirmed diagnosis.

In the meantime, hope I haven't rambled on too much and know that all of us on the forum are here for you whenever you need us.


Hello Lauraanne

Welcome to the forum and thank you for sharing your story. As Bramble mentioned, we are all here for you whenever you need us.

Like many of us, I had never had a mental illness before I suffered PP twice when I was 23 and 29, many years ago now. I had an emergency C-section with my first son as he was in distress. I also had delusions around the television, in that everything I saw and heard on the news I believed I knew before it happened The problem was my family didn't believe me so I took to my bed and stayed there......

I have recently had copies of my medical notes during these periods of PP and I am thankful to the professionals and my family that I eventually made a full recovery on both occasions following ECT and good care. My psychosis hit within weeks rather than months. I think although most have had the same diagnosis of PP, the timescale to recovery has been different. I was in various psych units with my first son and for approximately six months. However, it appears I was treated at home with my second son and also with inpatient confinement in psych units. I have read |I suffered depression following my second PP and recovery took over a year. However, I'm aware and glad that times and treatments have changed for the better now. Reading between the lines, the anti-depressants were not as effective as ECT at the time.

I'm sorry the doctors are none the wiser as to why you are still experiencing psychosis. |I'm not sure whether APP could offer a second opinion.

Take good care of yourself.


Hi Lauranne

Welcome to the forum. Thanks for sharing some of your story. It sounds like you have been through a rough time since being diagnosed with PP, having had 3 psychotic episodes since the PP. That is really tough.

I presume you have looked on the APP website for all the information about PP. There is a lot of information there, and I know that everything that is there is what is known about PP as APP are passionate about ensuring people receive accurate information.

The leaflet below is helpful, if you haven't read it yet

It says "Most commonly these episodes begin in the first two weeks after birth. Often symptoms begin in the first few days after having a baby. More rarely, the illness starts later – several weeks after the baby is born."

My PP episode was more a typical episode of PP - it came on suddenly on Day 3/4, and I was ill very acutely and suddenly. I too was in a mother and baby unit. I am glad that you had this support.

How are you now? What support do you have? Do you see a perinatal psychiatrist? You may have seen on the APP website that they offer a second opinion psychiatry service?

You would need to get your GP/psychiatrist to refer you, it sounds like this could potentially be a good thing for you to do. Perhaps you could print off the page above and take it to them and ask if they can refer you? The second opinion psychiatry service may be able to really help you with the diagnosis and treatment.

I do hope you are getting the support that you need, it sounds like you've been through a tough time?

I hope this is helpful, don't hesitate to write further.

1 like

Thank you very much for your reply! What is a perinatal psychiatrist? I have never seen one or heard of one.

I hate to be dramatic but psychosis has ruined my life. My son has been taken off me and now lives with his dad because of the last psychotic episode I had in March 2014. I spent over a year in hospital and I am now in supported living. The support I have received had been great but I am still none the wiser to why I keep getting psychosis.

Thank you for mentioning the second opinion psychiatry service I will definitely look into it and see if I can get referred.


My wife now 5 years on , scince August 2010 , no cure !


Hi there lauraanne64,

Sounds like it has been a really tough time since your baby has been born. I'm so sorry you have to go through all of the difficulties of pp. it's a horrible illness. Are you currently on anti psychotics? I was told by my perinatal psychiatrist (and a perinatal psych is one the specializes in mood disorders associated with birth) that I could be bipolar because of the strong ties between pp and bipolar. I had no previous mental illness but it could have been my first episode triggered by birth. I also went through a depression that I was hospitalized for, I was also hospitalized for PP.I was put on an antidepressant which helped. However with pp or if someone is bipolar you can not be on an antidepressant without a mood stabilizer because you could have a manic episode which could escalate to psychosis. An antipsychotic counts as a mood stabilizer they also make ones that are not for psychosis.Since I am off of my antipsychotic now and still on my antidepressant I am on a mood stabilizer which is used for bipolar. It keeps you from tipping to mania and depression. i have a lady I talk to who is a type of mentor for me with pp. she was psychotic for 7-8 months before being properly diagnosed. Her condition was assumed to be postpartum depression and she was not on an antipsychotic or mood stabilizer. She knew about pp and tried to explain to the doctors that is what was happening but they said since she wasn't hearing or seeing things she wasn't psychotic. Also I have heard of women who have not became psychotic for several months. Sometimes it can be a slow decline/incline. Hope this helps and you will get better. Sometimes you have to fight for wellness. Sometimes it takes a while to figure out medicine you will find something that works for you.

I told myself for a year I will not give up! You sound like you are doing all the right things. Never give up!

1 like

Hi Lauraanne64,

Your experience sounds really hard and like others have said, there are a lot of ladies here who can relate and give you some support. I hope the replies so far have helped you to know you are not alone.

I too had PP in 2009, out of the blue with no previous mental health problems, and spent about 3 months in a Mother & Baby Unit and a good while at home recovering and piecing my life back together. I had a course of ECT whilst in hospital and also took anti-psychotics for a year and Lithium for 3 years. A lot of the things you mention are things that sound familiar to me; I also thought the TV was sending me messages and think that I also felt better after a few weeks and was nearly discharged home but then took backwards steps and ended up on the Lithium too to try and "balance me out". I've not had any psychotic episodes since but know that I am at increased risk.

I had another baby in 2013 and with some planning, medication and a good dose of luck I stayed well. It must be awful having become ill again and getting the confusing diagnoses from professionals. That must be really hard and I know I wanted to know what was going on in order to try and deal with it, so I hope you are able to ask for more advice. I'd really recommend the Second Opinion Service, as I had a consultation when pregnant again; I printed the web-page from the link and took it to my GP, here it is again:

Do you have a mental health nurse or psychiatrist you can ask, or is your GP helpful? My GP is great but I really had to talk him through why referring me to Dr Ian Jones would help. There's still so much to be done to get even the nicest of GPs and mental health workers to understand more about perinatal illnesses which affect women around childbirth.

Another thing I found out about recently is that my hospital trust now has a clinic where women who have had a traumatic birth can be referred to talk about it and try and get some answers/ closure on it. I never did this (I don't think it was around when I had either of my babies, and I would have been in a psych hospital the first time so it probably never occurred to them). As I too had a horrid birth experience when I got PP, I do wonder whether there might be some link as others on here have mentioned it. I think the hardest thing in some ways is that no-one knows why PP occurs sometimes.

I hope some of the info on here is helpful to you, keep asking questions and I hope you get some answers which help you through it. You are not alone, we're all here to help! Take care, xx


Hi Lauraanne

Phew it does sound like you've been through such a difficult time, and not having custody of your son must be so hard.

I wondered too what meds you were on? I also imagine that you do have a plan in place what you can do to prevent psychosis, where possible? (e.g. what kind of things trigger it, what to avoid, how to spot the signs and reduce things that are causing you stress).

I really hope you are getting the support you need, and yes I would try and get referred to the second opinion service, maybe it's not possible but perhaps they can really advise you.

Take care, I will be thinking of you, you are a brave woman who has been through so much...



Thank you all for your comments. xxxxxxxxxxx


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